CARTHAGE, Mo. — Six Carthaginians who have made a lasting impact on the community will soon have their photos and achievements displayed along the walls of the Hall of Carthage Heroes after being nominated for the Class of 2019.
The Hall of Carthage Heroes, located inside the entry and main corridor of Fair Acres Family YMCA, highlights the contributions and accomplishments of recognizable figures from Carthage. The honor was established in 2012 to remember heroes of the past and present, citizens of distinction and outstanding athletes and teams who have gone above and beyond for their community. The 2019 group joins 74 other Carthage heroes who have been inducted to the hall since its inception seven years ago.
Abi Almandinger, Carthage Hall of Heroes board member, said a separate, independent group of five people chose the Class of 2019 after receiving several applications. The public began submitting nominees in the spring and had to provide additional documentation to support their decision, such as newspaper clippings.
“I don’t even know who was selected to be on the committee because they’re chosen anonymously,” said Almandinger. “It’s designed to be a very nonpartisan group of people. Those committee members do a selection process based on the information they have with the application. I think they’re people who are familiar with Carthage and are also active in the community, themselves.”
Almandinger said the committee looks for high levels of involvement and the individual’s contributions to Carthage over the years. The Hall of Carthage Heroes was created by an idea generated by Marvin VanGilder, a writer with the Carthage Press and historian, who back in 2007 suggested the significance of never forgetting where the community comes from and how it was lifted up by quality leadership.
“We wanted to identify those people who were instrumental in creating Carthage and making it what it is today,” said Almandinger.
The six individuals to be inducted into the Carthage Hall of Heroes are:
• Lowell Davis, an artist and resident of distinction, is commonly known for his recreation of his childhood hometown of Red Oak. He constructed Red Oak II, which features actual businesses and homes from the former town including a Phillips 66 gas station, general store and more. The popular tourist destination is located about 3 miles northeast of Carthage and displays several of his sculptures and his artwork. Lowell, who’s well known for his art depicting farm life in America, has been referred to as the “Norman Rockwell of Rural Art.” He was recognized as Artist of the Year at the 2019 Carthage Chamber of Commerce Banquet.
• Marjorie S. Bull, a lifelong resident and civic leader in Jasper County, started her career in the public eye by volunteering with the county Republican Party. Between the years of 1967 and 1989, she had served as deputy assessor, deputy treasurer and deputy clerk. In 1989, Bull was appointed as Jasper County clerk by Gov. John Ashcroft. She was elected the following year, a century after Annie Baxter was the first woman elected to Jasper County public office in 1890. She continued to serve as the county clerk until her retirement in 1998. She was the first recipient of the Annie Baxter Award, recognizing an outstanding woman in local government. Bull volunteers frequently with various organizations and shares her skills as a research genealogist for family history in Carthage and Jasper County.
• Micah Osborne, a former swimming athlete for Carthage High School, earned the reputation of being one of the top breaststroke swimmers in the state when he won two Missouri State Swimming Championships. He also set new swim team records at the school in the 100 breaststroke, 100 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 200 individual medley, 200 medley relay, 200 free relay and 400 free relay. He continued to break his own school swimming records over the years where he qualified for state in five individual events, won the 100 breaststroke in the 1998 Missouri State High School Swimming Championships and finished eighth in the state in the 200 individual medley. As a senior, he broke his own school record in the 100 breaststroke and was the repeat MSHSAA Champion, as well. He went onto Missouri State University where he was a four-year letter winner in swimming and helped the men’s team win the Missouri Valley Conference Championship during two seasons.
• Susan Wendleton, a resident of distinction, worked at the Carthage Water & Electric Plant for more than two decades where she worked her way up from cashier to general manager. At the plant, she spearheaded a loyal volunteer group of employees to work with children at Columbian Elementary School through the school’s Bright Futures Carthage program. She now serves as a Connection Care staff member at Carthage Nazarene and has served in several other groups such as the chamber of commerce, Carthage Caring Communities and Soroptimist International of Carthage. Wendleton is the vice president of both the Board of Innovative Industries, as well as the Bright Futures Site Council for Columbian Elementary. Over the years, she’s received a Red Cross Hero Award, the Carthage Area United Way Spirit of Giving Award, Athena Award and the title of Carthage Christmas Parade Grand Marshal. Wendleton was also named the 2019 Citizen of the Year at the Carthage Chamber of Commerce annual banquet.
• Felix E. Wright, an industry leader and resident of distinction, began his career at Leggett & Platt Inc. in 1959, where he worked as a customer service manager at the spring operations plant in Ennis, Texas. He continued to work his way up through different plants and divisions across the nation. After moving to Carthage in 1975, he was appointed senior vice president and group manager of bedding components. He was promoted to executive vice president and chief operation officer of Leggett & Platt four years later. He ended up becoming president of the company in 1985 and served on the board of directors from 1999 until his retirement in 2008. He was elected to the American Home Furnishings Hall of Fame and served as the president of the Suppliers Council of the National Association of Bedding Manufacturers. Over the years, he has supported the local school district’s athletic building, the Mercy McCune-Brooks Hospital chapel and Fair Acres Family YMCA.
• Frederick W. Steadley, an industrialist, first came to Carthage as a jeweler in 1890, where he purchased A.J. Kirke’s jewelry store at 303 S Main St., which is now part of the Carthage Deli. Upon his death in 1928, he was dubbed “the city’s greatest industrial leader” in his obituary in the Carthage Press. He served four years as the Jasper County recorder and became manager of Carthage Quarry Co. in 1907, later changing the name to F.W. Steadley & Co. after gaining ownership. He became the undisputed leader in the Carthage marble industry, revolutionizing the business and creating “The Big Quarry.” He later owned stock in Carthage Superior Spring Bed Mfg. in 1907 and had full control of the business in the early 1920s, changing the name to Carthage Spring Bed Co. Before his death, he purchased the Juvenile Shoe Co. His estate was passed to his wife and sons, and later became a part of the Steadley Trust.
The Heroes of the Class of 2019 will be inducted into the Carthage Hall of Heroes in an installation ceremony at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 23, at Fair Acres Family YMCA. To view the full biographies and photos of the inductees, visit hallofcarthageheroes.org